While spending a few days at the always-interesting PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida, I ran into countless fellow golfers who were grateful to have escaped the cold and snow up north for a few days in warmer climes.
They were preaching to the choir; I'm enjoying my fourth winter of residency in Florida. But at the same time, having grown up in Connecticut, I remember the antsy feeling of wanting to play golf but seeing nothing but snow and ice outside my window for months at a time.
During those New England winters, save for infrequent trips to a driving range with heated bays or a coastal golf course whose greens weren't totally frozen over (Shennecossett Golf Course and Fenwick Golf Course, I love you both!), I often worried my game was atrophying during the off-season.
If you have a similar sense of cabin fever - perhaps it's clubhouse fever for us golfers - here are four items you may consider picking up to help you actually lay the foundation for some actual progress during your own golf hiatus.
1. WellPutt Putting Mat
I have always loved putting indoors - one of my fondest high school memories was when our team would convene in early march to practice at multiple stations down a long hallway in the basement - but I was never very disciplined at actually working on my stroke. But I recently picked up a 13-foot WellPutt mat and am really enjoying it. There's a main hole target with a pie-piece-shaped "Welling-Putt" zone behind it, which helps visualize speed. If you leave mid-range putts short like I do, I think you'll find it helps you dial in your pace. There are also challenges and games you can play in order to track improvement.
2. Blast Golf
If you're a data-driven golfer, Blast offers a way to get digestible and helpful statistics about your golf swing, especially regarding tempo, which is particularly important in putting. It's a small chip that is easily affixed to the butt end of your putter grip, and it will sync up with your smart phone to serve you information about your stroke tempo, face rotation and other traits of your stroke. It also comes with access to training videos aimed at helping you improve, both on and off the course.
3. Sure Set
No two golf swings are identical, even among the very best players in the world, but there are certain moves that they all share. The Sure Set, made by a company based in the U.K., trains you to get into a "loaded" position at the top of your backswing, from which you'll have a better chance of making reliably solid contact. It's not a club-length aid, so unless you have insanely low ceilings, you should be able to use it anywhere indoors. I also like that it has a molded grip. Players' grips can change over time, so even holding onto the Sure Set's grip while you sit and watch TV can keep your grip consistent, even in the midst of a long layoff.
4. Impact Snap
If the Sure Set can train you to get into a better position at the top of your backswing, then the Impact Snap will finish the job, helping you forge an impact position that will help you make better contact on full shots. There's a nice feedback mechanism here: a hearty CLICK that simulates the moment of impact. Again, the Impact Snap is only slightly longer than a golf club grip, so you shouldn't have to worry about knocking over any family heirlooms while using it.